Thursday, July 07, 2005

Grey city, stubbornly implanted,
Taken so for granted for a thousand years.
Stay, city; smokily enchanted,
Cradle of our memories and hopes and fears.
Every blitz your resistance toughening,
From the Ritz to the Anchor and Crown,
Nothing ever could override the pride of London Town.

21 comments:

Sam Dodsworth said...

That's all very well, but how am I going to get home from work this eveing?

Meanwhile, Tony Blair is looking resolute. I think I preferred smug.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Glad you checked in, Andrew.

Although, now that I think of it, I don't even know where in England you live.

Andrew Rilstone said...

...and George Galloway wins the first "I told you so" award of the day.

Louise H. said...

Lady running the cafe was most insistent that it was "that war" and Mr Blair to blame. No one was arguing, but that might have been because she was making the tea.

People here in Birmingham are treating it rather as one of those dreadful things that happen in foreign countries. I've been wandering around the shops today and it's quite eerie to have the news on in most of the shops instead of the musak, and commentary from the shoppers. It is noticeable that while people are shocked no-one seems in the slightest threatened up here. That's the result of London being quite so dominant I guess.

The Twitcher said...

George Galloway's comments were disgraceful. He should be tried for treason just as Lord Haw Haw was at the end of World War II

Sylvia Drake said...

The visions of destruction on my TV, which a few sick and broken people worked so hard to bring about, are put instantly to shame by the calm bravery, cooperation and competence of the people of London.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Oh, without question. As an Israeli I tend to think that my countrymen have grokked the suicide bombing phenomenon in fullness, but today I saw something that made me wonder. CNN was interviewing a man who'd been on one of the tube trains. He'd been trapped in a dark, hot, smoke-filled carriage for I don't know how long, convinced of his impending death, uncertain of what exactly had happened.

He was ashen and shaken and his voice broke more than once, but for several minutes he spoke intelligently and articulately about his experience. At one point he criticized the emergency services, and then stopped to say that, after all, he was in shock and might not have the right perspective.

It was humbling, and inspiring at the same time.

Dan Hemmens said...

...and George Galloway wins the first "I told you so" award of the day.

Ah yes, George Galloway, the man that has the left screaming "For God's sake, get off my side."

Of course it's not likely to be long before we get similar degrees of I-told-you-soing from Blair, Clarke and all the rest of the detention-without-trial lobby.

Sam Dodsworth said...

Ah yes, George Galloway, the man that has the left screaming "For God's sake, get off my side."

Mind you, he's more nearly right than the 'detention without trial' crowd. You'd think people would remember what worked and what didn't work with the IRA.

Dan Hemmens said...

Mind you, he's more nearly right than the 'detention without trial' crowd.

But that's the problem. He's sort of right, but he's so ranty and incoherant that he undermines the position. When everbody else is saying "solemn moment... remain strong... great island story... thoughts are with the families" he's saying "haha! Tony Blair you are owned." It just looks petty.

Of course give it a week and the Blair/Clark diad start with the "Haha! Where are your civil liberties arguments now, hippies"

You'd think people would remember what worked and what didn't work with the IRA.

IRA? What IRA? Surely you understand that Terrorism didn't exist before 2001. This is the first major terrorist attack there has been on Great Britain, and it's only now that we're capable of understanding the true importance of bombing the arabs.

Sam Dodsworth said...

But that's the problem. He's sort of right, but he's so ranty and incoherant that he undermines the position.

I think I agree, but I'm still not entirely comfortable. A public consensus starts to accrete around any newsworthy event as soon as it happens, and if you wait too long to tell an uncomfortable truth then you risk being frozen out of that consensus because "everyone knows it wasn't like that". Although, of course, if you're not very good at PR than you can end up doing more harm than good...


Surely you understand that Terrorism didn't exist before 2001.

Not as much of a joke as I'd like, apparently.

Dan Hemmens said...

A public consensus starts to accrete around any newsworthy event as soon as it happens, and if you wait too long to tell an uncomfortable truth then you risk being frozen out of that consensus because "everyone knows it wasn't like that".

You've got a point, but it was the sheer "I told you so" factor that I found galling. With Galloway you get the distinct impression that his joy at being vindicated overshadowed his shock at what had actually happened.

You're absolutely right that it's important to challenge the popular consensus, particularly when Blair is spouting his "they hate us for our freedoms" drivel, but you can couch it in better terms.

Not as much of a joke as I'd like, apparently.

I know. It's really bloody scary. Apparently it's also generally assumed in America that the IRA stopped bombing people, not as a result of a peace process that had been decades in the making, but through fear of the War on Terror.

Steve McNeil said...

IRA? What IRA? Surely you understand that Terrorism didn't exist before 2001.

Fortunately, we're not all quite that stupid on this side of the pond. Gwynne Dyer is a Canadian freelance journalist/military historian who now freelances in London. His reaction ran nation-wide on CBC radio Friday morning:

http://www.cbc.ca/insite/COMMENTARY/2005/7/8.html

"[That] they are just evil people who "hate our freedoms" [is] a handy explanation that avoids all those awkward public debates about foreign policy ... but Londoners have long experience of terrorist attacks, and they know better. These are the 117th, 118th, 119th and 120th terrorist bombs to go off in greater London since 1971."

Charles Filson said...

Apparently it's also generally assumed in America that the IRA stopped bombing people, not as a result of a peace process that had been decades in the making, but through fear of the War on Terror.

So the only Americans you know are uneducated twats? There are more Americans who claim to be Irish than there are people living in Ireland. In certain parts of the country the Irish situation is closely followed.

I think that I would have trouble finding an acquaintance of mine who thought that Sinn Féin/IRA stopped bombing due to the war on terror.

However, it would also be naive to think that American support of Sinn Féin/IRA (Through private financial contributions that were in my opinion always a stain on American honor) had not waned due to the war on terror.

I think that North Ireland is a good lesson of what Iraq will be like. The violence will stop when the people who lived under Saddam have all died of Age, and when their children have grown to old to care. The children who are born into democracy there will be the first to embrace it fully.

The same goes for Palestine. As the Yom Kippur War generation dies off the prospects for peace look brighter.

Sam Dodsworth said...

I think that North Ireland is a good lesson of what Iraq will be like. The violence will stop when the people who lived under Saddam have all died of Age, and when their children have grown to old to care.

You mean, the way the Irish Question died down when all the people who lived under Cromwell were dead?

Phil Masters said...

I think that North Ireland is a good lesson of what Iraq will be like. The violence will stop when the people who lived under Saddam have all died of Age, and when their children have grown to old to care.

Not a good analogy, I'm afraid. The vast majority of Iraqis seem to be very happy to get shot of Saddam, and will apparently say so to anyone taking an opinion survey. If the insurgency was entirely down to nostalgia for the good old days of Baathist rule, there'd be no trouble.

However, wanting shot of a bad man is one thing; wanting a foreign army marching in, turning trigger-happy, building bases, and telling you how to run your own country, is quite another. Especially when the invaders are from a different cultural and religious background. Human beings quite be quite insanely resentful of that sort of thing, whatever the real alternatives.

Despite which, the insurgency is still pretty clearly down to a minority of the Iraqi population. Unfortunately, you can also throw in fanatical factions from the assorted neo-Islamic death cults who Saddam kept out of the country, but who've now cheerfully come back, and maybe some elements from Saddam's old support base with nothing much to lose, and you've got a lethally dangerous minority insurgency - who can in turn exploit the deep cultural divisions within Iraq (and a large religious minority with a long-standing political whip hand over the religious majority is one bit which could recall our own dear Ulster).

The children who are born into democracy there will be the first to embrace it fully.

It's probably patronising to assume that the older generation of Iraqis don't understand or appreciate democracy. But in any case, the first thing you need on that logic is a working democracy for anyone to embrace. Which has to be accomplished in the face of the above-mentioned problems.

Charles Filson said...

No, Pithy response though.

To date from Cromwell is sort of ingenious. The attempt at giving Ireland self-rule wasn't made until '22.

Prior to the Partition of '22 there didn't seem to be much effort toward appeasement on the part of Britain.

When Britain finally agreed to/imposed Self-rule and Partition this solution seems good today, but it is the Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren of the people who made those decisions that are finally making the peace.

Charles Filson said...

Phil,

It's not a matter of being ignorant of democracy. Had you or I been born in an oligarchy or caste system we would have very likely seen it as normal and desirable. We might have even fought to defened it. Being born into democracy we find it the best form of government.

I tend to think that Democracy is probably about the worst form of government except for all the others. (~Churchill)

Iraq will finally have peace when the current generation dies and their children die and their children grow old and their children finally take charge.

The insurgency cannot live without the support of the populous. If the people did not in some way support it, it would find it very difficult to sneak around unnoticed.

The point you raise is a good one though. It must be hard for a foreign power with a different religion and culture to come in and rework your society, economy and political structure. I wonder how the Japanese handled it.

Dan Hemmens said...

So the only Americans you know are uneducated twats?

No, they're just the sort that complain about being surrounded by uneducated twats...

Most nations have a skewed view of history. I'm still convinced that, deep down, the English still believe we fought the Second World War in order to stop the Holocaust.

There are more Americans who claim to be Irish than there are people living in Ireland. In certain parts of the country the Irish situation is closely followed.


And there's almost certainly more Americans who claim to be Druids than there were actual Druids. It doesn't mean their rituals are authentic.

Sam Dodsworth said...

It's not a matter of being ignorant of democracy. Had you or I been born in an oligarchy or caste system we would have very likely seen it as normal and desirable.

I don't want to be rude, but I think that's the attitude Phil meant when he said you might be being patronising. It's classic Colonialism: the people of #&60;less powerful nation#&62; aren't capable of making properly-informed choices so we, the people of &60#;more powerful nation&62# must reluctantly take charge until they can properly understand the benefits of what we have to offer.

This was, ironically enough, one of the arguments against Home Rule for Ireland.


The point you raise is a good one though. It must be hard for a foreign power with a different religion and culture to come in and rework your society, economy and political structure. I wonder how the Japanese handled it.

Consensus historical opinion is that there's an important psychological difference between losing a protracted war that you started and being invaded and occupied by people you don't like very much. That's why the Germans had more trouble occupying France than the French had occupying Germany.

Charles Filson said...

I don't want to be rude, but I think that's the attitude Phil meant when he said you might be being patronising. It's classic Colonialism: the people of #&60;less powerful nation#&62; aren't capable of making properly-informed choices so we, the people of &60#;more powerful nation&62# must reluctantly take charge until they can properly understand the benefits of what we have to offer.


Sam,

You are assuming that I argue that Democracy is better. I am not. I am making no comparison. My point is that they may have an idea that their way is best, and it might be. But their grandchildren will probably accept Democracy as the norm and the status quo.

To the Irish who are 30 today, not even many of their grandparents remember a non-partitioned Ireland. Those living in North Ireland have gotten more used to the idea. I have no idea whether a united or partitioned Ireland is better, but a partitioned Ireland is the status quo and the accepted norm to the current generation of young people...the very people who are generally the most willing to go off and die for a cause.

The same is true of palestine. I think that the same will be true of Iraq.

Slavery in the US was not universally marked as evil until 3 generations after the amancipation proclimation. It took 4 generations until segregation was addressed. Change takes time, and whatever a person is born into, will be considered normal by the vast majority of people.